Allen Lazard is a Packer for the 2022-2023 season. Signing his restricted free agent tender after the Packer’s mandatory minicamp, Lazard sent a clear statement. Lazard wanted what every NFL player is hoping for from their team; some stability.
Lazard has worked his way from undrafted free agent making the team in 2018 to a starter that out performed all three of the drafted wideouts Brian Gutekunst thought were better in that same draft.
In 2018 the Packers shelled out a whopping $56,470 for Lazard’s services after signing him off the Jacksonville Jaguar practice squad on December 18, 2018. That combined parlay of the Jaguars and Packers netted one catch for seven yards. In 2021, Lazard had 40 catches for 513 yards including 8 touchdowns. He dropped one pass the entire season. He was a fearless blocker in the run game and earned the trust of his quarterback. At twenty six years old he wants to be a Packer long term. He is 6’5” and weighs 225 lbs. He is a physical mismatch in the pass and run game.
The Packers have money and yet, Lazard is not signing a multi-year deal. If Gutekunst felt the Packers held all the cards then he has learned nothing from failing to extend Davante Adams before the 2021-2022 season. The Packers have lived in the luxury of wideouts knowing Aaron Rodgers, for all his quirks, will deliver an accurate ball and help them keep their jobs. Yes, Davante Adams is saying he wanted to play with his old friend in Vegas, but second on that list of priorities is Rodgers won’t be playing that much longer. Adams wants to be in the hall of fame. He thinks Derek Carr is a better bet that Jordan Love. Today, his choice is the best bet for his future. Carr can make a receiver a one thousand yard stat man year in and year out. Jordan Love hasn’t proven he can be even an average starting NFL quarterback.
But what Adams is staying silent on is Gutekunst’s refusal to pay him market value in 2021. When asked why the negotiations with Adams were not resolved with an extension in August of 2021, Gutekunst offered this gem;
“With that particular situation, it’s how you interpret what the highest wide receiver in the National Football League is getting paid.” That is the quote of a failure. He wouldn’t pony up, and the next year when he tried to cover his backside, the best receiver in football gave him the finger and rode out of town.
So while many pundits will say the Packers held all the cards in the Lazard decision, they aren’t looking at the future. Next year Lazard will be a free agent and there is no Davante Adams ahead of him to lower his number of targets in 2022. If he stays healthy Lazard could easily be a thousand yard, ten touchdown, prime target for Rodgers. If that happens the Packers will be kicking themselves for letting Lazard price them out of his market. The Packers have three rookie draftees with lots of promise, but they have no idea if the rookies will turn into Davante Adams or J’Mon Moore (who is currently playing for the New Jersey Generals in the USFL sitting on their injured- non active list. )
The Packers refused to pay Adams what he thought the market reflected in 2021. Now they are refusing to pay Lazard what he believes he has proven his talent is worth. Lazard’s delay in signing is sending a message to Brian Gutekunst. The same message Davante Adams sent in 2021. Apparently, the message is still falling on deaf ears.